Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were wrongfully accused of a crime? Being arrested for something you didn’t do can be a terrifying and life-altering experience. However, it’s important to understand your rights and the legality of the arrest to ensure that justice is served. 

In this blog post, we will explore what you should do if you believe you have been wrongfully accused and how to navigate the legal system to clear your name. 

What Does It Mean To Be Wrongfully Arrested?

A false arrest occurs when one person wrongfully restrains or detains another without legal justification, such as probable cause or a valid arrest warrant. This act, also known as false imprisonment, is typically considered a misdemeanor offense. The following situations can also be categorized as wrongful arrest:

  • Misidentification: Wrongful arrests often occur due to mistaken identity, where individuals are incorrectly identified as perpetrators of a crime they did not commit.
  • Lack of Evidence: Sometimes, people are wrongfully arrested because there isn’t enough evidence linking them to the alleged crime. This can lead to unjust arrests and legal battles.
  • Unlawful Detention: Wrongful arrests can also happen when law enforcement officers detain someone without proper legal justification, violating their rights and freedoms.

Understanding these factors is crucial for addressing and preventing wrongful arrests, protecting individuals’ rights, and ensuring justice is served.

What Can You Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Arrested?

In any case of wrongful arrest, proving your claim is essential to seek justice. Otherwise, it’s merely your word against that of a police officer, which can be challenging. So, what information should you have to defend your case effectively?

Here are the key elements a person filing a lawsuit for wrongful arrest typically needs to establish:

  • The individual accused of wrongful arrest (the defendant) intended to detain or confine the plaintiff.
  • The plaintiff was aware of being detained or confined.
  • The plaintiff did not consent to the detention or confinement.
  • The detention or confinement was not legally justified.

It’s crucial to have these details at hand when building your case to ensure your rights are protected and justice is served. Let’s take a look at each point closely in order to have the bigger picture. 

Intent to Detain or Confine

To be held liable for wrongful arrest, the defendant must have intentionally detained or confined the plaintiff. It’s not enough if the defendant was careless or negligent; there must be a deliberate action to restrict the plaintiff’s freedom.

Different states may use varied terms like “detain,” “confine,” or “restrain,” but the essence remains the same: the individual is being held against their will and cannot leave freely.

Aware Of Being Arrested

To prove wrongful arrest, the person detained must have been conscious of the detention or confinement when it occurred. Simply realizing it afterward isn’t sufficient.

Issues of awareness might arise if the individual was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, causing them to be incoherent or unconscious. However, this is rarely disputed. Basically, if you think you were arrested but not sure because you were “kind of out of it”, that could not hold up in a courtroom. 

No Consent

A false arrest doesn’t occur if the individual agrees to the detention or confinement. However, this consent must be freely given, without coercion or duress. If consent is obtained under pressure or through force, it’s considered invalid.

In essence, in terms of giving consent to be arrested means that the individual willingly agrees to the detention or confinement by law enforcement officers. It implies a voluntary acceptance of the situation without any external influence or pressure. In most cases, arrestees vehemently assert their innocence and resist detention, making the issue of consent less relevant.

No Legal Justification

In a false arrest case, much of the dispute revolves around whether the arrest was legally justified. An arrest is considered legally justified, or “privileged,” if:

  • There is probable cause to arrest, meaning a reasonable person could conclude, based on the circumstances, that the arrestee might have committed a crime. Probable cause is not a high standard to meet.

For instance, if a judge issues an arrest warrant, it indicates that there is probable cause for the arrest. Similarly, if a law enforcement officer witnesses someone apparently committing a crime, the officer likely has probable cause to make an arrest.

Let’s say now that after reviewing all of this information, you come to the conclusion that you have indeed been a victim of wrongful arrest. What’s next? Can you really sue the person responsible for this?

Filing a false arrest lawsuit usually involves various legal claims and procedures, depending on the parties involved and the circumstances of the arrest. Let’s break down the process into two main categories:

Where, Who & What To Sue For

  • False Arrest Lawsuit Against Private Parties

You can typically file the lawsuit in state court, usually in the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred. There you will need to identify the individuals and entities involved in the arrest, such as private security officers or employees, the company employing them, and the owner/operator of the establishment where the arrest took place. 

Now, what to sue for? Alongside the wrongful arrest claim, include other relevant claims arising from the incident, such as assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.

  • False Arrest Lawsuit Against Police and Government

You can file the lawsuit in the state where the arrest happened, often in federal district court if federal laws and constitutional claims are involved.There you can sue law enforcement officers, their employing agencies, and/or relevant government entities.

What can you sue for? You can bring claims for violations of the United States Constitution, such as unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment, as well as other constitutional claims and intentional torts like false arrest, assault, battery, and malicious prosecution.

In both scenarios, it’s crucial to gather evidence, understand legal procedures, and consider hiring an attorney to navigate the complexities of the case and ensure your rights are protected.

Kirakosian Law: Your Wrongful Arrest Lawyer

Instances of wrongful arrest, excessive force, and police brutality are significant concerns in our society, particularly within California. That’s why our firm takes a proactive approach in addressing cases involving misconduct, including malicious prosecution, unjustified shootings, wrongful arrests, and other abuses of power.

In the pursuit of justice, we are committed to exhausting all avenues for resolution. If mediation fails to yield a satisfactory outcome, we are prepared to advocate for our clients in civil trials. If you believe you have been wrongfully arrested or subjected to police misconduct, it’s crucial to seek assistance from a specialized lawyer promptly. Your rights and dignity deserve protection, and we are here to help ensure that justice prevails at Kirakosian Law.

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